Archive for the ‘Travels’ Category

Africa Sketchbook ~ Continued

Saturday, February 18th, 2012

It’s around this time of year every year I grow nostalgic for the perspective-changing trip I took to East and Southern Africa in 1997. To continue with my earlier posts, I opened my dogeared journal today to see where I was and what joy or angst my young self was feeling on that day. It seems like navel-gazing, but I think these experiences shape who we are as people and as makers of things. This is what I found:


I drew this at a large bench at Njaya House backpackers. When I was finished, the Australian across the table slid his journal over my way, asking if I could do a sketch for him. I ended up doing about half a dozen of them. It makes me happy to think that there are all these journals scattered around the world and that these people could be parents now, and tell their kids about their adventures in Africa.

I’m still blown away to think that when I went, I didn’t have an email address, I used film in my camera (and took too few photos), and my family and friends wrote letters to me and sent them to Poste Restante general mailboxes, hoping I’d come across them when I passed through.

Travel seems to have lost some mystique since the interweb. Now we can go on Skype and be shown around Sydney Harbour on someone’s phone! God, I sound old. It’s amazing though.

New York + Art = Happiness

Monday, February 13th, 2012

I was lucky enough to go back to New York this last December for a couple of weeks of wandering around, gawking at buildings, people, art galleries, everything. When in Rome…

The scale is just breathtaking.

The scale is just breathtaking.

I was so excited to see that the Met has acquired a piece by one of my favourite painters, Jenny Saville. I fell in love with her work in 2001, when I found a few paintings in a book while I was attending NSCAD. Though some of the pieces are a bit grisly in subject matter (my sister said “Ugh, I don’t like looking at that at all!”), it’s all that luscious paint and fleshiness that drew me in. I’d never seen one in person until the Met, though. The piece is titled Still, from 2003. It reminded me of Willem De Kooning saying “Flesh is the reason oil paint was invented.” Absolutely.

These are just so meltingly beautiful.

Monet's waterlilies are just so meltingly beautiful, it's impossible to avoid gushing.

I know how long it takes to build up a surface like that. Again, gush.

I know how long it takes to build up a surface like that. Again, gush.

...and an old studio friend. Almost ten years later. Thanks for the date, Jane!

...and an old studio friend. Almost ten years later. Thanks for the date, Jane!

Argentina ~ Part Two: Gallery Art

Friday, February 10th, 2012

In Buenos Aires, we went to the Malba, Museo de Arte Latinamericano de Buenos Aires, a ten year old gallery filled with contemporary South American art.

Great hall at the Malba

Great hall at the Malba

Loved this crazy wooden bench. You can see the tendrils climbing down the walls in the previous photos.

Loved this crazy wooden bench by Pablo Reinoso. You can see the tendrils climbing down the walls in the previous photos.



Nelson Leirner (worth getting 'spoken to' for sneaking a photo!)

Antonio Berni

Antonio Berni

Dos hombres de pie con zapatillas rojas, by Ricardo Garabito

Dos hombres de pie con zapatillas rojas, by Ricardo Garabito

I kind of fell for Senor Garabito’s work. They are strange paintings, to be sure, but the drawing is so gorgeous, and I love the awkwardness of them. Why this skiddy guy, repeated, with no pants on? Why not, I guess.

and of course, Ms Frida.

and of course, Frida Kahlo's Self Portrait with Monkey and Parrot.

Some gorgeous drawings by Leon Ferrari

Some gorgeous drawings by Leon Ferrari

Remedio Varo, Icono 1945

Remedio Varo, Icono 1945

What a lovely little world he created here. I stood and looked at this one for a while.

Argentina ~ Part One: Street Art

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

It’s been ages since I wrote here, but I’ve just returned from 2 weeks in Buenos Aires, Argentina. What a feast of colour for a hungry artist!


Aquamarine walls and propped bikes.


'A gift'? Love the almost hidden figures in white. I didn't see them until I looked at the photo!


Peeling paint on Cinzano building.


The blondest blonde in El Caminito.

Blending In

Blending In?

"I have a thing for taller ladies..."

"I have a thing for taller ladies..."

No comment.


Sketchbooks ~ Mexico

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

Yay, more travelly sketchbooks!

This one is Mexico, January 2011. There is such pleasure in doing a silly little sketch with my wee set of watercolours. It’s pressure free, as I don’t have to show it to anyone if I don’t want to (but I’ll show them to you!). It’s the act of sitting with my notebook and my Pina Colada and fiddling with paints. Sigh. It helps when the sun is warm and the palms are swaying. Happiness.




Sketchbooks ~ Morocco

Thursday, June 3rd, 2010

I am a lucky girl. The day after my delightful studio tour (thanks again, everyone), I jetted off to Morocco (via London) to celebrate life and birthdays with three lovely ladies, for two weeks. When I am away, I like to do a few sketches in my wee book. It brings me back to a quiet place, and when I get home I find I treasure these ‘moments’ recorded in my book. Of course, I took 686 photos, too! Those may be a coming attraction (though, not all, don’t worry), but in the mean time here are a few sketches done with my trusty watercolour set.

Lisa Hebden ~ Riad Kaiss Pool Sketch

Lisa Hebden ~ Marrakech Cactus Sketch


Lisa Hebden ~ Riad Kaiss Sails Sketch

Lisa Hebden ~ Palm Sketch

This last one has my name written in Arabic, by one of the gents at the place we were staying. What is it about seeing our names on things? At least it’s not on a grain of rice!

Sunshiny Day

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

Yesterday was the first day the sun has shone here in a while, so I will honour that by posting some lovely shots of my honeymoon in Kauai back in September. A gorgeous place, especially for artists inclined to beachy things…



























I found an artist at Amy Lauren’s Gallery in Hanapepe whose work made me swoon just a little, Melinda Morey. I swear I did my Beach Paintings before I saw these!


Dawn Patrol by Melinda Morey

Dawn Patrol by Melinda Morey



Floating by Melinda Morey

Floating by Melinda Morey



Keeping it Afloat II by Melinda Morey

Keeping it Afloat II by Melinda Morey



Local Girl in Sand by Melinda Morey

Local Girl in Sand by Melinda Morey



Momentum by Melinda Morey

Momentum by Melinda Morey

Africa Diaries Continued

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009


It’s been a while since I added an Africa Diary post (snippets from the dog-eared rice paper journal I shlepped around East and Southern Africa in 1997), so I will pick up where I left off:


February 27, 1997  Mark’s house, Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania

“To photograph people is to violate them, by seeing them as they never see themselves, by having knowledge of them they can never have”
~Susan Sontag 

We’re staying here at Mum’s cousin Lani’s husband’s house outside Dar. It’s very different from the hostels we’ve been staying in. The house is very beautiful, and the dog, Ratfink, likes to jump into the pool and swim with me. We don’t quite know what to do with ourselves here. Lots of reading and exploring, I guess.

There’s a large group of people standing a ways out in the sea, all looking at something.  I want to know what they’re looking at, and what I really want to do is hurl myself in the water like Ratfink. I’ll just stay here for now.


The deck at Mark's house in Dar es Salaam. An oasis for two weary backpackers!

The deck at Mark's house in Dar es Salaam. An oasis for two weary backpackers!


Feb 28

I think I’d enjoy going romantically insane, and Zanzibar would be the perfect place to do it. Though perhaps not remote enough: too many fishermen to bring me out of my passionate, wordless madness. I guess I’m just sick of small talk. It should be banned in all cultures. A ban on banality! And the word nice.

As I washed my face in the small bathroom upstairs, fabricating a letter-form speech to an ex-boyfriend, an open book on the top of the toilet caught my eye: The Fifth Penguin Book of Sunday Times Crosswords, on the back of which was written the following:

The Contemporary Rubayat

Waste not your hour, nor the in the vain pursuit
Of this and that endeavour and dispute
Better by Merry with this joyous book
Than sadden after base, or worldly, goods.
A Book of Puzzles underneath the bough,
A jug of wine, a loaf of bread and thou
Beside me singing in the wilderness
Oh, Wilderness were Paradise now! 

~with apologies to Omar Khayyam and Edward Fitzgerald

I love how someone’s little funny can transport me from here to Pearrygin Lake in an instant, sitting on a blanket under a willow tree with a bottle of orange pop, a Daphne duMaurier novel and my sister.

We wandered around the neighbourhood, found a little shopping plaza and an art gallery full of Tinga Tinga paintings which made me really happy.




More African Diaries…

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009



I’m feeling more nostalgic than usual tonight I guess.  This trip I took 12 years ago, over 9 countries in East and Southern Africa, shaped my visual language as well as my written. I spent rattling bus rides looking out the window trying to imagine the mixing of colours and how I would describe the shapes of the trees. 


Feb 24, 1997

Our Zanzibarian friend Joseph told me his friend had whispered to him last night, “that woman you are standing with, she took my heart away.” How lovely to find this second-hand love poetry, even the day before leaving.


Marie and H playing chess with the wee boys from down the beach.

Marie and H playing chess with the boys.


Feb 27, 1997

Our last day on Zanzibar has been strange, as are last days anywhere. We said goodbye to Marie after breakfast, and I felt the rising tension between us without her there. We walked around Stone Town and I got my chess set and hena. We went for red beans and rice at Passing Show and then to the Mahrubi Ruins on a dalla dalla. The pond was acid green in the light (not so much pond, but rather “circular pleasure pool” according to the sign) and there were a million fish who liked Marie’s biscuits she had unloaded on me, and strange water beetles that seem to breathe with their bums. The other pond was filled with lilies. It looked romantic  next to the old pillars that were once part the palace some guy had built for his harem. On the wall of one of the small toilet roooms in the palace was scrawled “this time tomorrow”. Hmm.


One of my favourite shots of the trip.

One of my favourite shots of the trip.

Speedo guy. This guy just drove the boat. Never said a word.

Speedo guy. This guy just drove the boat. Never said a word.


The Circular Pleasure Pool in all its glory

The Circular Pleasure Pool in all its glory

Africa Diaries: Stone Town

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

Me in Zanzibar

To continue with my Africa Diaries, here is an exerpt from Feb 10, 1997.

Ah, Zanzibar. The water is the colour of ice, though I’m anticpating the temperature will be much more pleasing. Met friends who’d been to Indian cinema: Hoo-wah. Guy offered to take me to Bagamayo on his boat with paperbag sails. We were fortunate enough to be selected by Ola Ola Coka Cola, a self-professed guide who offered us his card and said Don’t worry be happy cool runnings. We dragged him around town and finally found a hotel, the Malindi Guest House with a scruffy skinny little kitty and what appears to be her daughter covered with fleas. The sweetest little things. Walked about Stone Town, ate red beans and rice spiced with coriander seeds, cinnamon, cardamom etc–all for a buck! Went to Africa House for beer at sunset with other mzungus. I thought I was getting a tan but it’s just dirt.


Small alleys and bicycles with horns (they don’t stop for anyone), mangoes, mangoes and more mangoes & sistah can I shake your hand? At the nightmarket, I nearly die of happiness: table after table of samosas, beef kababs, chicken (a little dodgey, gave mine to kitty) potato balls, chips, ‘pizza’ Zanzibar style, chapati and peanut bean balls…yum! I was vaguely aware that the travel clinic would have been rather upset by my blatant disregard for any hygiene rules I so diligently agreed to before leaving. Hacuna matata is all I have to say, though I do feel almost knocked out. Maybe the heat.